from an ornithological perspective
I live in West Central Wisconsin; I suppose you could call it the “Land of Sand”. Where sand operations are now opening up in every empty corner; buying farmland plots in bulk to then destroy with their mountains of sand, heavy equipment, and finely-sifted sandy air pollution. In my small township alone, there are 5 of these operations; varying sizes and companies, pushing out not only decent land for living, but also wildlife habitat. When we first moved to our small farm in the county of Monroe, there was a field in which 9 Whooping Cranes (a Federally Endangered species) could be seen all at once. More inquiry proved that they frequented this spot twice a year during migrations. A bird that prefers grassy and marshy areas, with plenty of water nearby, they also frequent fields looking for a tasty morsel in the newly-plowed soil. Once the sand operations moved in across the road and also a couple of miles away, the cranes vanished from the entire area. For those who are not as familiar with the behavior of birds, a flock of 9 Whooping Cranes is a sight to see; a good-sized flock for this species and a treat to any bird enthusiast. With the rapid destruction of this species’ habitat, the road to “Least Concern” status could hit a bump.
Not only are these operations destroying prime habitat for this particular species, but miles of habitat for a diverse array of all species. The destruction of natural habitat, the fine sand filling the air, the heavy truck traffic, and the stench-filled ponds are all potential dangers to both animals and humans.
With this many operations dotting the map, how much land is being torn up and wasted? The sand operations won’t be in business forever, and when they do go down, how many will rehabilitate the land?
How can you help? Spread the word and share your personal concerns on the matter. If you have meetings in a township where sand operations are appearing, bring up the issue for discussion. In our township, concerns were shared, considered, and solutions put into practice.
If the after-math of such operations are a concern for you, try speaking with the owners; see if a program to reclaim the natural habitat is in their plans, or is something they would consider.
This article, from the Chicago Tribune, states some alarming facts about the wide-spread mining. The very first paragraph mirrors what is going on in my township.